What is intentional living? What does it mean?
You’ve probably heard about it somewhere, somehow. And although you may think that it sounds like some philosophical term that doesn’t apply to your busy, rushed, and stressed life, I’m here to tell you: intentional living is exactly what you need.
So, what does it mean to live intentionally?
Living intentionally means to be conscious about the life you are living.
Most of us, as soon as we start the “adult life” we begin to live a rushed routine that is mostly guided by external circumstances like money, work, friends, and family. As a result, we constantly make decisions unaware of them or about how they contribute to our wellbeing.
So? Intentional living means aligning our decisions and our habits with our beliefs in a way that they contribute to the life we want to create.
Moreover, intentional living is about organizing and planning out your daily activities to build up the life you think is worth living. Simply said, it is synchronizing your lifestyle with your core values.
According to Paul O’Brian (2015): “The more you pay attention and practice intuitive decision-making skills, the better you will become at sensing the unique rhythm of your life.”
Why should you live intentionally? Why does it matter?
We understand life gets busy. Also, we know money is important to pay debts.
However, have you ever stopped to think about what your final years will be like? Moreover, have you ever reflected on what will be left when you are done paying your debts, if you are ever done with them?
Please, make the exercise and think about it. Visualize it.
So, I want you to hold on to that premonition for a second. Ask the future you: “Did you achieve your goals? Did you live fully and happily? Most importantly, did you impact other people’s lives in a good way?”.
Well, what are your answers? Now, let’s take you back to the present.
If your answers were not what you expected, then you have a few reasons why you should start to live intentionally.
When you decide to live intentionally, to make conscious decisions, to be self-aware, you are making everyday count and you are actually “living” rather than being dragged through life by external circumstances.
A small decision matters, your life matters and your dreams too…
If you need to see it in a simpler way, intentional living is about being present at every moment, about being you now.
How to live intentionally?
At this point, you understand you need to start to live intentionally. But how do you do it? Where to start?
Sadly, I cannot tell you exactly how to do it. Everyone’s intentional lifestyle is different and it involves a process of self-discovery and deep reflection that varies from person to person.
Nevertheless, I can guarantee you one thing: complete honesty is needed. Don’t lie to yourself. Be true to your feelings and beliefs. That’s how you can find your core values, those that will be responsible for your future actions.
First, before making any plan, you need to identify your core values through self-discovery questions. For example:
- What does happiness look like to me?
- What do I consider good vs evil in this world?
- Do I believe in a deity? Should it affect my behavior in any way?
- What is my aspiration in life?
- Is having other people around me important?
- Are those people happy with me?
- Do I prefer material things or life experiences?
- What is my dream job?
To all these questions you have to answer a second question, WHY? Write down the why of every answer and reflect upon them.
The second step is about understanding those why’s. Understand why you prefer one thing over the other, why something is important to you, why do you care, why are you not choosing another thing…
Once again, make sure your answers are honest and that they reflect who you truly are. Every action that follows will be based upon those why’s.
So, what comes next?
You need to start, to take action. After exploring your values and what you want in life, you consciously decide to align every aspect of your lifestyle with them.
How? By planning, organizing, and setting goals. In fact, grab a notebook, a life planner, or a bullet journal and write down a plan. Identify those areas where you need to work, exclude from your life everything that does not help you to be who you want to be.
Moreover, analyze your daily results, go over your routine, your actions, and decisions. Track your progress and identify the areas where you are falling behind. Creating an intentional lifestyle takes constant practice and self-evaluations.
If you don’t have a planner to track your activities and set some goals, check out this planner!
Not sure what intentional living could look like?
Here are different examples of how to align your daily life with your core values.
Reduce your impact on the planet – start to take your own utensil kit to eat outside, use a reusable water bottle, go meatless at least one day a week.
Show more love to your family – spend at least three nights together during a week, play games, write little notes and put them in their lunchbox, help with homework, prepare dinner, listen to each other.
Improve your finances or spend consciously – track your budget, track your debts, start a side hustle, cut out online shopping.
Connect more with God – pray daily, read the bible, help other people, volunteer.
And so the list could go on.
In fact, these are just illustrations on how small daily actions can line up with your beliefs and goals instead of just being left randomness.
By supporting every decision on your why’s, every action will reflect you and it will help you cultivate a lifestyle that you choose.
Is intentional living for you?
Intentional living is for everyone. I am a firm believer that life should be lived with purpose and with joy.
Every day in your life should build up that future you want, either by developing new habits, setting goals, evaluating relationships, or taking care of yourself.
Aligning your life with your values, dreams, and passions will definitely result in a happier and more purposeful life.
That way, when you reach that point in life when you are done with your debts and your job and raising your kids, you will look behind and feel satisfied and fulfilled with what you did.
O’Brian, P. (2015). Great Decisions, Perfect Timing: Cultivating Intuitive Intelligence. Divination Foundation Press.